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George Burgess was a Swindon-based writer of indifferent ability whose primary claim to fame was as the putative biographer of Archimedes and Pythagoras Vavasor. However, he died before the project was complete and the current whereabouts of the unfinished manuscript are uncertain.
Burgess first became known as the caption writer for Farm Girls Illustrated, possibly the only top shelf magazine that also offered in-depth advice as to what to do with a bent crankshaft on a Massey 35. From there, he progressed to feature writing, following which he was given the job of providing a more contemporary translation of The Harmonious Bower of the Nawab of Ouenq, a legendary and deeply problematic work of early Victorian pornography.
The Wilderness Years
The sequence of lawsuits that followed publication of Burgess's translation ensured that he remained virtually unemployable for several years after this, although he was eventually saved by the intervention of "Chicken Jim" Feltch, a pig farmer from Westonzoyland in Somerset. It turned out that Feltch had fond memories of Burgess's work in Farm Girls Illustrated, and was looking for a vehicle in which to invest the funds from the sale of his lower field. As it happened, Burgess had been toying with a particular long-cherished project but had all but given up any hope of implementing it.
Shroud of Ecstasy
Burgess's breakthrough book was a work of non-fiction, Shroud of Ecstasy. In this heavily-researched yet highly controversial book, he explored the new and unusual theory that the Turin Shroud was in fact the sheet from a bed in which Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene had consummated their passion. The image of a man's face had subsequently appeared on the sheet via a mechanism that Burgess christened orgasmic imprinting.
Burgess's publishers, a small semi-religious press called Heaven Helpers, received multiple death threats as a result, as did Burgess himself, but to their credit they stood firm. In fact, they had to, precisely because of the state of their credit, given that they had pinned everything on Shroud of Ecstasy. In the end, this turned out to be a wise decision, as there is nothing more that the world of publishing loves than a controversy, and the book was ultimately a minor commercial success. Despite, this, however, Burgess was shaken by the experience and vowed never to have anything to do with the world of publishing ever again.
The Truth About the Vavasors
Burgess was persuaded out of retirement by the prospect of writing the official biography of the Vavasor twins, Archie and Pye. Terms were agreed with Isaac Vavasor, the twins' younger brother and a publisher was eventually found in the shape of the conspiracist imprint Head Wind, run by the formidable Hilary van Beek. Burgess was granted full access to the Vavasor papers, including the Marginalia, and set to work. However, it seems that after he delivered the finished manuscript to Isaac Vavasor for final approval, Vavasor got cold feet and pulled the plug on the whole enterprise. This whole episode has raised many questions among the Vavasorologist community, such as why Burgess was hired in the first place, and what he found in the papers, and it is unlikely that the truth of what really happened will ever come out.
Burgess's demise was unusual in that he was stabbed through the neck with a mathematician's compass.
List of Known Works
- The Harmonious Bower of the Nawab of Ouenq (Sharp/Practice, 2003)
- Farm Girls Illustrated Annual Compendium, vols 116-119 (Rural Health Press, 1994-7)
- Shroud of Ecstasy (Heaven Helpers, 2015)
- The Truth About the Vavasors (Head Wind, unfinished)